Enrichment

Or: Thrill, play and surprise

Environmental enrichment" at the WSC

Besides the daily scientific work we offer our animals additionally attractions and activities, to increase their quality of life. The term Enrichment must not necessarily be translated -  for it is  germanized and thus we shall use it furthermore.

The general aim of „environmental enrichment“ is the improvement of the overall wellbeing of animals living in captivity, by facilitating species-specific behaviour and an extensive (broad) use of the enclosures. Moreover thereby you can avoid stereotypes.

At this alteration and diversity is the most important, therefore we let slip in new ideas frequently. There are 5 different categories of  Enrichment, which can't be separated completely. Many of the tasks given to our animals at the WSC are not implemented on the purpose of Enrichment - yet can be counted for it very well.

Social Enrichment 

is reached in keeping the animals in packs. It's part of our work to visit them regurlarly in their enclosures. And the walks can also be seen as social Enrichment.

Cognitive Enrichment

This category describes everything stimulating an animal mentally or generates new experiences. In our case this are the daily cognition tests and the training, which represent the main part of the work with the animals at the WSC.

Characteristics (features) of the habitat 

The physical characteristics of the environment (with our animals the surroundings of the enclosure) can offer a lot of alternation. Our animals live in large, natural enclosures with old trees and a vegetation rich in variety and structures. We provide shelters, hiding possibilities, ponds and viewing (observations) decks to them.

Enrichment for the senses

Everything, that offers alternations for the different senses of the animals:

Sense of smell (olfaction)

We use most different things providing new scents to the animals. They will be scattered on the ground, hidden in straw or e.g. spread on the trees. Herbs, spices, old hay, silage, fresh sheep's wool .... The wolves and dogs love to sniff at it or to wallow therein.

Visual sense

potential preys can be watched, as in the neighbouring enclosure there are living sikas, capricorns or moufflons. Another example for "visual enrichment" are visitors with their dogs on which our animals are reacting directly.

Enrichment by food

Any kind of providing food counts to this category, especially when the animals have to work for reaching it. 

Once a week wie distribute "goodies" like dry food all over the enclosure (ground, cavities, cracks in the trees ... ) and spread ketchup, mayonnaise, honey onto the huts, high in the trees, deep beneath root stocks. We also hide the food regularly in cardboard boxes or in frozen water ("ice lollies").

Thus the animals spend at least 20 minutes with seeking and exploring and they are encouraged to make use of the entire enclosure.

Unknown food

This is another kind of „environmental enrichment“ by food. Large pumpkins (link), watermelons. hidden (easter) eggs or other novelties are distributed in the enclosures at special occasions.